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Long distance Doosans

Wed 08 Mar 2017

Long distance Doosans

Based between Aberdeen and Inverness in the North East of Scotland, Currie Contractors have come a long way since the founder of the business Ian Currie, bought his first JCB digger for farm contracting work in 1976. Some 10 years later Mr Currie bought his first “rubber duck” a 2 year old Liebherr 912 which was to be operated by Gordon Durno who is still with the company to this day. The company has always been a relatively small scale family affair and in 2006 Mr Currie’s son James decided to return home to work for the firm having served his time as an agricultural engineer elsewhere. James was very enthusiastic and keen to push the business on a bit and had lots of ideas on how to do this. The company then purchased a new Fendt 936 which was fitted with a Kirpy road recycling unit designed for overhauling roads and tracks. James later designed and built a pull grader for use behind the tractor. Another opportunity arose when the local Forestry Commission were selling off their Volvo G726B motor grader. James purchased the grader and then tendered for and won the contract to maintain the Moray/Aberdeenshire roads, including the rally routes in the area. Work was steadily getting busier and the firm began to get more heavily involved in construction and the groundworks for renewable energy schemes like wind turbines and solar farms. As such the firm gradually moved away from plant hire in the main and started tendering to become the principal contractors on such projects. This meant investing in more and more machines and in the past 2 years the company has really grown with a large investment in Doosan machines which have been supplied by their local dealer Balgownie Ltd. James said, “We purchased our first Doosan DX255LC in 2008 from Balgownie and had it dual pumped for working with our Fecon mulching head, we still have that excavator and it’s still a great machine which convinced us to stick with Doosan for our fleet”. Other items in the Currie arsenal include a 2012 JCB 4CX which was the 3rd of its kind to be sold in Scotland, Hitachi 22 tonne loading shovel and a Scania R580 low loader. The current Doosan fleet consists of 1 x DX140LC, 1 x DX170W, 1 x DX225LC, 1 DX255LC and the latest addition the DX210W-5 which was the first of its kind to be delivered into the UK market. As one might expect this machine has been put in the safe and highly experienced hands of long serving operator Gordon who has now been with the company for 30 years. Gordon’s previous mount on the firm was a Caterpillar M322D which he took on new in 2009, James Currie said, “When we first bought the Cat it was delivered straight to a Morrison Construction job on the Arisaig – Malaig road upgrade scheme, it also went on the work on the Fochabers Bypass and flood alleviation schemes in Elgin Forres and Brechin. It was a very good digger for us but we felt the dealer gave up on it. We did price for another Cat this time and to be honest there was not a lot in it on price, but we feel it’s handy to have all your excavators from one manufacturer, all the same set up and our preferred Geith quick hitches, so buckets and attachments can be interchangeable”. Gordon’s wingman on this job operating the DX225LC was Alistair Grant who has been with Currie contractors for around 6 years, starting out on an 8 tonne Takeuchi  to earn his stripes and then moving onto the Doosan 22 tonners after that, his current machine which features a Cat tilting bucket, donated from the outgoing wheeled excavator, was delivered in November last year. Perhaps incredibly Earthmovers caught up with the new Doosan DX210W-5 some 600 miles away from the companies base in the north East of Scotland, at Andover in Hampshire, where it and a DX225LC from the firms fleet are working on a solar farm project that will be, when completed, the largest of its kind in the UK. Project Manager for AGR Andy Beattie explained a bit about the job, “The Andover Solar Park is a 145 acre 40MW site being developed by AGR Renewables who are working with principal contractor Solar Century, which will feature 165,000 solar panels when complete” Andy continued, “The 2 Currie machines are working for AGR to build approximately 5km’s of roads on site. They will also be assisting unloading lorries with forks and being used for whatever needs doing on site including cable trenching, ditching and sub- station foundations” “The main reason that these diggers have been engaged to work with us so far from their main base in the north of Scotland is that Curries have now carried out the civils works for us on quite a few windfarms in Scotland and their work is of high quality and nothing is a problem to them. Their operators just know the job and get on with it”. James Currie commented, “We have worked with Andy Beattie at AGR for the last few years now and have formed a very trusting relationship with him, he knows we can get on with the job and have the right personnel and attitude to get the job done, that’s why he takes us from job to job”. James continued, “Our operator Gordon is very well respected in the plant game and everybody knows how good a job he does. Quite often he is the very last digger left on any site and loads up all the containers, reinstates the compound area and finishes any batter works”. On the day of our visit the machine was extremely busy having arrived on site just a few days previously. In fact it wasn’t even emblazoned with the Currie signage as yet. With wagons coming in delivering hard-core stone there was no chance of gaining any stick time on the machine on this occasion. However during a tea break Gordon was keen to show us around his latest mount. The one thing that strikes you as you approach the DX210W-5 is its size, for a rubber duck it’s a big piece of kit and very impressive too. The machine weighs in at around 21.4 tonnes depending on specification. This machine features the extremely useful two piece boom and will be fitted with mudguards, extra cameras and additional LED lighting on its return to Scotland, Currie’s also opted for the 10000 hours extended warranty package for peace of mind. Power for this Stage IV machine comes from a Doosan DLo6P which regular Doosan fans will be pleased to hear is still a 6 cylinder lump with a power output rating of 189hp (141.2kw). This engine is an up-rated version of the one fitted to the smaller DX170W-5 and features Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) and Diesel Oxidation Catalyst (DOC) technology without the need for a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF).  According to Doosan the machine, working in conjunction with its EPOS (Electronic Power Optimising System) hydraulic system, offers a 17% improvement in engine power and vastly improved fuel consumption compared to the outgoing Dash-3 model. Access up to the engine compartment is by the usual route across the tool box and up onto the upper structure, with decent sized guard rails fitted along the left hand side to guide you’re way. The bonnet is gas strut assisted which is a big help, but to release it you still have to lean towards the back to un-hitch the locking mechanism. The front toolbox is also home to the batteries and main battery isolation switch and there is still some room towards the front for strops and a drop chain if needed. The AdBlue tank is located behind a small opening panel door on the offside. This looks like it could be tricky to fill up with but a flexible funnel or AdBlue can with flexible filling pipe should suffice. Access to all the filters, cooling packs and air filter is the standard fare on machines today with large panel doors allowing for all daily and routine maintenance to be done from ground level, apart from checking the engine oil level which still has to be done from under the bonnet. The fully pressurised and spacious cab features the comfort levels we have come to expect from Doosan in recent years, with all the creature comforts one needs like a fully adjustable air suspension seat which also features heating, air-conditioning, automatic climate control, and MP3 player/USB radio. There is plenty of storage space around the cab too, with no less than 7 separate compartments including the large shelf in the back for the compulsory dinner bag, a hot/cool box compartment is also featured. Gordon was revelling in all the delights within the cab, “They have certainly come on a lot in comparison to my old Cat M322D” he said. From a brief sit in the seat I can say that all round visibility is very good and is further enhanced by the rear view camera setting on the main 7 inch full colour monitor. To the front of the operator it’s the usual wheeled excavator set up. The steering wheel column is fully adjustable and is narrow in build to ensure good forward visibility. Four foot pedals control include two on the left for two piece boom adjustment and auxiliary and on the right as per standard you have the brake pedal and accelerator pedal. The right hand side console is where most of the important function switches can be found, a large rotary throttle dial is located behind the ignition switch. Just behind the right hand joystick is a multi-function control panel featuring power and work mode selection buttons, as well as camera or monitor display buttons, also built into this is Doosans exclusive “jog shuttle” switch, another rotary dial for easy selection of all machine functions in conjunction with the monitor display. A bank of rocker switches control axle locks on and off, working lights and a “smart power” control switch. A 3 speed travel selection switch, which includes creep, low and high settings, is located just behind as is the remote radio controls and parking brake switch.  Further towards the back one finds the boom float function switch for improved ride comfort when travelling. The joysticks also feature built in thumb roller proportional controls for use when using attachments like grabs, or tilt-rotators and the like, the right hand joystick also features a “power-boost” button and a one touch deceleration button. The undercarriage which has been supplied with both front mounted blade and rear outriggers, features the well proven heavy duty ZF axles which are designed for low maintenance, with oil change intervals increased to 2000 hours. The machine features a new drive line concept which is said to provide more comfortable travel with increased smoothness, improved hydraulic retarding and enhanced gear shifting. Asked for his thoughts on the machine so far Gordon said, “Well its early days just yet and to be honest I am still getting used to her, but it’s a nice piece of kit, with plenty of speed and power, I’m finding the two piece boom to be very useful too, the cab comfort level is incredible so it’s a good place to spend your days”. The two piece boom is a real game changer on any wheeled excavator and when coupled with a tilt-rotator you have the ultimate excavator and materials handler all in one. We left the team to get on with the job in hand with DX225LC operator Alistair Grant going on ahead digging out for the road leaving Gordon to level the incoming stone and hard-core. “Rubber Ducks” are without doubt interesting machines which require a good hand at the controls, to your average tracked machine man they can appear a bit daunting, mainly due to the fact that there is a lot to think of with them especially in the cab with additional controls like axle locks, brakes and a steering wheel to deal with, but once in the groove with them they really do provide a good variety of work and these versatile excavators are often the first and last machines on a jobsite.

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